Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tidbits From Tuesday's UBP Luncheon

We've heard some interesting tidbits from folks in attendance at Tuesday's Uptown Business Partners luncheon with Alderman Smith at Crew. Alderman Shiller made an appearance shortly before the luncheon ended and enlightened the crowd with these facts:

1) Wilson Yard won't be "Cabrini Green." She said it will be built for those earning 60% of the median income in Illinois, which for the area is around 100% of the median income for families. She conveniently forgot to mention that only 21% of the tenants would fall into this category, and since Section 8 and CHA have first priority, it won't be anything close to that. (Language in blue type added - our mistake, we left it out when we transcribed the email.)

2) HALF of the retail space at Wilson Yard is already leased. We wonder to whom? Actual retail shops who might bring business here from outside the ward? Or social services agencies?

3) The housing will be finished BEFORE Target opens in 2010, which directly contradicts the original plan, which had the housing as the third and final component.

You heard it here first.


  1. Half?

    On a per square foot basis, I assume?

    Well, Target alone would account for that.

    Who are these tenants? They have signed leases, or are they more of the mysterious letters of intent that can't be FOIA'd since it is a "private contract"?

    The woman is amazingly incompetent and untrustworthy, and history tells us not to believe a word she says.

  2. "60% of the median income in Illinois." ???

    In Illinois? Doesn't a project that uses LITC funds have to be be compared with the surrounding community?

  3. I share your frustration Uptown Refugee. But I would disagree that she is incompetent. I think she is a dishonest person who feels whatever actions she feels strongly about, are justified regardless of what anyone else says or does. In short she has learned how to get away with what she wants to do regardless of what her ward residents say. However this has been changing. She is even more reclusive these days and I believe it is a direct result to the amount of information she is no longer able to control. There is so much more of a coordinated effort to create honest changes in the ward. She can't get away with telling one block one thing and then the next week saying something else to another block. Now the second block would likely be aware of what was said in the first meeting before she opened her mouth. This was not the case only a few short years ago. I believe the reason some of her staff come across angry is because they are regularly getting called on things the Alderman says and does. Proof to me that they do indeed read this blog!

  4. My reading comprehension skills need work since I missed the reference to Shiller the first time.

    Did Helen and Mary Ann get into a hair-pulling slap fight? That would have been good viewing.

  5. Who were the business partners attending this meeting?

    What questions did they ask?

    Did they press Shiller on detailing WHAT retailers have inked leases already?

    Is there any attempt for specificity from Alderman "Shifting Goalposts"?

    Do I have to open a business in Uptown, pledge to lose money, just to get inside these meetings to ask these questions?

  6. I was there, and Mary Ann Smith was very complimentary to Helen and said they worked together on a lot of projects. She touted the corner of Lawrence and Broadway as how good Uptown could be. Of course, the elephant in the room was that NOTHING happens south of Leland.

    She also said that Jam Productions had not (yet) met the requirements the City set forth for the Uptown Theatre ($1.7 million payback and $5 million bond) and she was going to make sure that the theatre's renovations are done right. She didn't sound thrilled that Jam had not kept its financial obligations.

    Ald. Shiller or Smith (can't remember) mentioned that due to the population density and the revitalization of Uptown, the CTA was going to be improving all the L stations between Sheridan and Argyle.

    Murray, this was open to the public. Members of Business Partners got a discount, but most of the events are open to everyone. Go to the BP website and ask to be put on the mailing list.

  7. TrumanSquareNabr: Thanks for the information.

    Since you were there, did anyone ask Alderman Shiller about the Chicago Police safety study for the Wilson Yard Project?

  8. No, it was a lot of business owners, some of whom don't live in the area, and it was very cordial all-round.

    Ald. Shiller came in at the very end, after taking her mother to the doctor, so her presentation was (quite obviously) unrehearsed and maybe five minutes long.

  9. Does anyone know what Schillers agenda could be? I mean come on. If it is just to keep the area a slum and get kickbacks from her friends who are slum developers? I would think she would be way further ahead to clean up the area and get better kickbacks from respectable business owners much like Daly does. I just don't understand what her angle is. Anyone have an idea??

  10. Can you give me an example of a thriving retail development anchored by a sprawling low-income housing project on a very busy commercial intersection?

  11. re zesty marinara-
    The alderman must have misspoken, or the notes were imprecise. Rents for LIHTC units are calculated by the state based on HUD's Area Median Income. In Chicago, that is the median income for the 6 county metro area.

  12. "Misspoken"

    syn. lied, mislead, TIF e.g. "Wilson Yard is a mixed income/mixed use development."